The war in Ukraine continues and the Ukrainian military is creating the conditions for another victory in the east. On the 226 day of the war, the Ukrainian forces are pushing toward the important city of Svatove in the east.
The Ukrainian Counteroffensive in the East
In the east, the Ukrainian military is setting up the conditions for another encirclement of Russian forces, this time in Svatove. Looking at the map of the battlefield, one can see two Ukrainian salients within the Russian defensive lines. One of them is in the north, just southeast of Kupyansk, and the other one is farther to the south, just northeast of Lyman. Ukrainian forces attacking from these two points are slowly converging with the apparent aim of encircling Svatove, which lies farther in the east.
This is the standard modus operandi of the Ukrainian military thus far. Ukrainian commanders pick an important urban center and launch a two-prong attack from the north and the south with the aim of encircling it and trapping any Russian forces in there or forcing them to retreat so they are not cut off.
Both Kupyansk and Lyman were recently liberated by the highly successful Ukrainian counteroffensive of September.
Meanwhile, the Russian military is trying to use Iranian drones to stem the Ukrainian counteroffensives but without much success. Some weeks ago, the Kremlin came into an agreement with the Iranian government for the provision of tactical unmanned aerial systems, including loitering munitions, in order to be used on the ground in Ukraine. Now, after some weeks on the frontlines, the Iranian drones are becoming more frequent.
However, the intended effect remains elusive. The Russian military would like to use the Iranian unmanned aerial systems in a similar way to how the Ukrainian forces are using the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), that is to disrupt, degrade, and destroy the Ukrainian lines of communication and supply.
“Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones is not generating asymmetric effects the way the Ukrainian use of US-provided HIMARS systems has done and is unlikely to affect the course of the war significantly,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
The Russian Casualties
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 61,680 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 266 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 233 attack and transport helicopters, 2,466 tanks, 1,455 artillery pieces, 5,093 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 344 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,862 vehicles and fuel tanks, 177 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,067 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 135 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 246 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.